Lester Coleman, Exxon Worker, Hospital Helper

Posted: July 15, 1996

Lester H. Coleman, 79, who became a dedicated hospital volunteer, died Thursday at Underwood-Memorial Hospital, Woodbury.

Mr. Coleman was born in Salem and lived there for many years. He was a Clarksboro resident for the last 19 years.

Mr. Coleman was a tanker-truck driver and office worker for 40 years at the Exxon Corp. in Paulsboro.

After retiring in the late 1970s, he became a volunteer at Underwood-Memorial Hospital. There, he put in a total of 8,030 1/2 hours, working until the day of his death. In 1984, he was named the hospital's volunteer of the year.

He wasn't always so eager to volunteer, recalled his wife of 37 years, Beulah Wentzell Coleman, who was secretary for the volunteer coordinator at the time. ``But one day, he just said you can sign me up as a volunteer,'' and he stayed with it, she said.

He was a volunteer courier, helping to wheel patients from their rooms to their cars when they were discharged, carrying messages and doing errands for hospital staff.

Over the years, he and a fellow retired Exxon employee provided an additional benefit to the hospital. The two were eligible for Exxon grants made to nonprofit organizations at which Exxon employees did volunteer work. The grants the hospital received were used to purchase wheelchairs, X-ray equipment, and even a computer for the hospital volunteer office.

Mr. Coleman was a World War II Army veteran, serving in India.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two stepdaughters, Sharon Barks and Lois Keogh; five grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; a brother; and three sisters.

Friends may call from 12:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Zion Methodist Church, Kings Highway, Clarksboro, where funeral services will begin at 1:30 p.m. Private inurnment will be in Elmer Cemetery, Elmer.

Memorial donations may be made to Underwood-Memorial Hospital Foundation, Broad Street and Red Bank Avenue, Woodbury, N.J. 08096.

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